Storm drops 20 inches on Delmarva Unplowed roads and ice present travel problems


EASTON -- The two-day storm that swept eastward across the United States saved the worst for last, dumping its heaviest snow on the Delmarva Peninsula before blowing out to sea. "This was a band of snow 50 to 100 miles wiye."

The storm hit hardest in the middle of the peninsula, dumping 18 to 20 inches in parts of Talbot, Dorchester and Wicomico counties. Across the state line in Delaware, Rehoboth Beach got inches, according to the weather service.

"We have a pile of it," said Martha Sweeney, general manager of the Rusty Rudder, a popular bar and restaurant in the resort. But the snow didn't hurt business too much, she said. "Everybody likes to party when the weather's bad."

Ocean City, 15 miles south of Rehoboth, had much less snow -- 8 to 10 inches -- and no damage to the beaches, said City Manager Dennis Dare.

"We're not forecast to have any beach erosion or high tides," he said.

From Cecil County at the top of the Chesapeake Bay to Virginia, road workers, police and residents struggled yesterday to clear roads and assist disabled vehicles.

By midday, U.S. 50, the main route across the peninsula, was fairly clear, state police said, although icy patches and blowing snow made driving risky. Major routes on the lower Shore also were clear.

But very few secondary roads in any areas were cleared, as State Highway Administration workers struggled to keep up with the main arteries.

"We've been working since Friday," said Greg Holsey, resident maintenance engineer for Talbot County.

The first snow on Friday was light and relatively easy to plow, he said, but yesterday morning's snowfall was wetter, and the wind was causing trouble.

"It's blowing and drifting," said Cpl. Michael Maresco of the Easton barracks of the state police. "It's powdery. Anywhere you have open fields, it's just blowing right back onto the road."

The Bay Bridge was clear, with one westbound lane closed briefly yesterday when iced formed on the roads lightly, said Debbie Simms, a bridge telecommunications officer.

Traffic on the bridge was light but moving steadily, she said.

Although main roads on the Shore were passable, state police were urging motorists not to drive on them if possible.

"Yesterday we were averaging five accidents an hour," said Cpl. Harry Edwards of the Salisbury barracks, where all the accident calls were for single-car mishaps and the typical calls were for stranded vehicles.

"We're just assisting motorists who for reasons unknown drive in this nonsense," he said.

In downtown Salisbury, a tractor-trailer jackknifed at the intersection of U.S. 50 and Civic Avenue, Corporal Edwards said.

The snow prompted a blizzard of cancellations.

Exercise classes, substance addiction meetings and even a bimonthly radio show were disrupted.

"All week I was looking at the weather and thinking it's just going to rain out here like it always does -- but we really got dumped on," said Van Williamson, a Salisbury resident who produces "Radio From Downtown," a show taped at Easton's Avalon Theater every other month.

The show, scheduled for last night, was canceled because of the weather.

"Even if we could all get there, we'd have an audience of about 20 people," Mr. Williamson said.

Meanwhile, authorities worried about the unusually low temperatures forecast for last night and today, which could freeze roads.

"It's going to get cold, and it's not going to melt this mess, either," said John Swaine, a an observer for the National Weather Service who lives in Royal Oak.

L Mr. Swaine said that about a foot of snow fell on Royal Oak.

Smith Island, 12 miles west of Crisfield in the Chesapeake Bay, also reported heavy snow.

"Too much!" said Maude Whitelock, one of 400 residents of the island, which has no snowplows.

"The cars just keep running over it until it mashes down," said Mrs. Whitelock.

"It slows down everything, of course."

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